Sunday, October 10, 2010

No Federal Bailout Money for Texas; Perry’s Outstretched Hand Gets Slapped

Isn’t it funny how Texas governor Rick Perry thinks he can have it both ways when it comes to federal bailouts? Twice, by my count, Rick Perry has either outright refused federal bailout money, or used a bailout for things it was not meant to be used for.

Back in March the feds wanted to give Texans $555 million to help with the growing unemployment rolls. But Rick Perry turned that down because it would require Texas to change some of its retrogressive laws.

Which was, you know, kind of the point.

Then there was the $3.2 billion in federal stimulus money that Rick Perry gladly accepted last year. The purpose of it was, as found in Texas application for the funds, was to provide “money for textbooks and a $1.9 billion increase in school funding, which will provide for an $800 raise for all Texas teachers and other school workers.” When he received the funds, Perry immediately pulled a fast one by placing the money directly into the state’s education budget while at the same time extracting a like amount of state money already there, using it to balance the state’s budget.

This, by the way, according to Barbara Ann Radnofsky, running for Texas Attorney General, was not only an illegal act, but also an act that now threatens the loss of an additional $830 million in federal education dollars that are meant to save school districts from having to lay off teachers.

So really, it comes as no surprise that this time Rick Perry has again held out his hand for federal dollars despite the fact that he is writing a book that voices his disdain for getting federal bailouts. Perry has asked for President Obama to declare thirteen counties in Texas as a major disaster area as a result of Tropical Storm Hermine which hit Texas last month. Doing this qualifies Texas to receive federal disaster assistance as it did when Bush issued a declaration following Hurricane Rita and Ike.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, however, just turned Perry down flat.

From the Austin American-Statesman:
“Based on our review of all of the information available, it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies. Accordingly, we have determined that supplemental federal assistance is not necessary.”
Cold, huh?

What jumped out at me was the assertion that recovery from the disaster was something that could be handled at the state and local level. It definitely harkens back to Rick Perry’s famous assertion that Texas is weathering the economic disaster and recovery better than any of the big states. So really, in his statement, Fugate is saying just this: since Texas is so much better off, you don’t really need federal assistance, do you?

Especially after stealing $3.2 billion from Texas education.

And Texas educators.

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